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What Is Hernioplasty?

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  • Written By: J.M. Willhite
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 21 June 2014
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Hernioplasty is a surgical procedure used for correcting a hernia. Recommended for inguinal hernias, hernioplasty is frequently conducted as an outpatient procedure, unless the patient is known to have specific risk factors. The procedure can be conducted conventionally by incision or laparoscopically, which only requires a small opening. There are risks associated with hernioplasty, and these should be discussed with a physician prior to pursuing this treatment option.

Inguinal hernias occur when soft internal tissue pokes through a tear or weak area in the wall of the abdomen. The name is derived from the inguinal canal, a naturally occurring tunnel through the muscles of the abdominal wall. Weakness in the abdominal wall can be residual from birth or can occur later in life resulting from muscle deterioration caused by strenuous activity, lifestyle, or age.

Though not dangerous on its own, an inguinal hernia can become progressively worse, leading to serious complications over time. An incarcerated inguinal hernia occurs when a loop of the intestine becomes caught in the weak area of the abdominal wall, causing severe pain and nausea. When blood flow to the trapped portion of intestine is diminished, a life-threatening condition called strangulation occurs, causing the death of the trapped tissue and requiring immediate surgery.

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Symptoms of inguinal hernias include a bulge in the area on the side of the pubic bone, a heavy feeling in the groin area, or pain and discomfort in the groin, especially when bending, lifting, or coughing. Risk factors for developing an inguinal hernia include family history, pregnancy, and moderate to severe obesity. Over time, most inguinal hernias will enlarge if not repaired surgically.

Conventional hernioplasty involves the administration of a single, long incision over the hernia. Depending on whether the hernia is bulging out or lying inward, it can either be pushed back or its sac tied off and removed. When the hernia is pushed back into place, a mesh patch made from synthetic material is sewn over the weakened area in the abdominal wall as reinforcement. The patch works to decrease strain placed on the abdominal wall as well as to reduce the risk of recurrence.

When conducted laparoscopically, hernia repair is performed via small incisions with the aid of a tiny camera and equally small instruments that are inserted through the incisions. A fiber-optic tube containing the camera is used to guide the surgeon via a video feed during the procedure. As with conventional hernioplasty, a patch is employed for support and to decrease the risk of recurrence. Benefits of this type of hernia repair include limited scarring, minimal discomfort following surgery, and a shorter recovery time.

Hernioplasty surgery for individuals who are susceptible to recurrent hernias, who are taking anticoagulant medications, or who have heart or lung disease may be conducted as an inpatient procedure. To reduce the risk of complications, special preparations are required for individuals who smoke, have a history of blood clots or deep vein thrombosis, or who are on an aspirin regimen. Risks associated with hernioplasty include nerve damage, infection and bleeding at the incision site, and damage to the femoral artery or surrounding veins. Average recovery following hernioplasty surgery takes three to four weeks with limited activity and is dependent upon the individual.

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